Is your management team managing?

Here, we address leadership mistakes and misconceptions that your management team may have fallen prey to.

Research has shown that 79 per cent of business and HR managers believe they have a significant problem engaging and retaining employees. According to the same study only 6 per cent believe their current performance management style to be worthwhile. This highlights some weakness in management practices, but also some confusion about the way we should be engaging and motivating employees.

There are many things to consider when evaluating your management system, some of which are often overlooked. 

The importance of personality types

The desired outcome for individual employees may be the same across the board. But different personalities are stimulated and motivated differently and therefore require varied management styles. To some, this could mean identifying personality traits and adapting your style according to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), while to others it simply means being more intuitive and flexible in your approach.

The MBTI divides people into 16 personality types, based on criteria such as extroversion and introversion as well as how you make decisions and react to others. The test used to measure personality types has been heavily criticised and research suggests that it lacks scientific credibility. But despite the shortcomings of this method, its frequent use in the workplace indicates that managers need to understand the way their staff think and work best.

Related: Are you an introvert? Here’s why you could make a great business leader

As Eursap point out in their blog, as the competition for digital jobs becomes more fierce, specialised CVs that reveal personality traits can help candidates. However, despite the quality of a CV, employers will almost always intuitively assess a candidate’s personality in the flesh as much as their skills and potential during an interview. They will also see how it compares to the personality they perceived on the CV. While it is often assumed that recruiters are looking for a sense of compliance alongside professionalism, Activia Training states that recruiting managers should look for indications of assertiveness during the interview process.

This is because assertive people often demonstrate better problem solving skills and are more open and honest communicators. This type of person will require a very different management style than, for example, a very introverted person who shies away from conflict.

So, whether it’s a systematic or a more empathic approach to recognising personality diversity, it provides valuable insight for your management team.

Micromanaging and over-analysing

For most managers and team leaders, employee performance is the key to success. But over-emphasising results and incentivising success can lead to micromanagement. The profitability of a company certainly depends on the achievements of staff. But do appraisals and evaluations always motivate employees to achieve more?

A 2012 survey suggests that one in three workers think that appraisals are a waste of time. More recently, this view was echoed by former BBC HR director Lucy Adams who suggests that evaluations make employees feel threatened due to a ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the brain.

While it is important that employees understand what best practice looks like and the goals they should be aiming for, the emphasis on performance and results may not be conducive to a happy and productive team.

The benefit of flexibility

Managers may be surprised to hear that autonomy and self-assessment could increase productivity and motivation. According to i2Office, allowing more flexibility in terms of working hours and investing more trust in employees could help you develop a more independent and therefore more successful workforce. This is an excellent reason for management teams to step back and promote self-learning and better problem solving. But it is also worth being aware of the dangers of micromanagement.

Although routine is important in our daily lives, regimented work schedules can often mean employees don’t get the time and space they need to recharge. For this reason, it is important that your management team consider the impact regular breaks and flexible hours can have on motivation.

Evidence suggests that workplace flexibility is more important to workers than salary and career progression alike. This means that managers constantly underestimate the importance of flexible schedules. This includes allowing employees the option of working remotely and trusting them to meet deadlines even when they are away from the office.

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